TUCSON — Calling it dangerous and unconscionable, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday sent a letter to President Barack Obama criticizing reports that immigration officials sent migrant families from Texas to Arizona, later dropping them off at Greyhound stations in Phoenix and Tucson.
“As governor of Arizona, I am deeply concerned about this troubling policy and the adverse impact on the illegal aliens, as well as to Arizona,” she wrote.
Brewer was also alarmed that federal officials did not notify state and local law enforcement.
“Our nation and the state of Arizona face significant challenges stemming from your administration’s refusal to carry out its responsibility to secure our country’s southern border. State and local governments, law enforcement agencies, health care providers and nonprofit organizations are all stretched to the breaking point attempting to manage the enormity of these challenges,” Brewer said, adding that sending migrants to Arizona exacerbates the problem.
However, border crossing apprehensions in Arizona have significantly dropped over the last year as they’ve spiked in Texas.
From October 2013 to May 17, agents in the Rio Grande Valley made more than 148,000 arrests, compared with 63,000 arrests in the Tucson sector. But the Rio Grande Valley has about 1,000 fewer agents than Tucson.
The shortage of resources came to a head over Memorial Day weekend, when border agents in the Rio Grande Valley saw a surge in families with children crossing into Texas.
They flew more than 400 of those families to Tucson, where border agents processed the migrants and transferred them to of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
ICE then dropped the migrants off by the busload at the Greyhound station in Tucson. The station became overwhelmed and ICE began transferring some migrants to the Phoenix station.
The groups of migrants included hundreds of women with children ranging from months old to pre-teens. They were initially dropped off without any food or supplies, but humanitarian organizations like the Phoenix Restoration Project deployed volunteers who helped the migrants to navigate the bus station and supplied food, diapers and medical care.
Brewer was highly critical of the federal government’s decision to drop off the families.
“I remind you that the daytime temperatures in Arizona during this time of year are regularly more than 100 degrees. Consequently, this federal operation seems to place expediency over basic humanitarian concerns. The federal government should not shirk its lawful responsibility to care for and properly process these individuals,” Brewer wrote.